In today’s on-the-go world, it would be difficult to find a driver anywhere that hasn’t been guilty of distracted driving. Mom is trying to race her children from school to karate while the kids are changing into karate gear in the back seat. A Father hears his text alert and checks to see that it’s his 14-year-old son checking in safely at home. A group of teens is navigating unfamiliar territory on their way to their first spring break.
Distracted Drivers Pose a Danger on the Nation’s Roads
CDC statistics indicate that approximately 2.4 million car accidents in 2015 involved a driver who was talking or sending a text message on a cell phone. In 2015, 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. Studies show that the risk of getting into a collision increases fourfold when a driver is on the phone, based on emergency room visits and property damage statistics. Estimates show that a traffic accident involving a driver on a cell phone once every 24 seconds in the U.S.
All forms of distraction while driving are dangerous – even things that do not require a driver to take his or her hands off the wheel such as using a hands-free headset with a cell phone – as the human brain is limited in how much information it can process at once. Multitasking while driving increases the risk of crashes because it makes drivers less observant of traffic queues. Activities such as applying make-up, changing the radio station or programming a global positioning system device are as dangerous as talking on the phone while driving.
What Is Distracted Driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as having three types: visual, manual and cognitive distraction. Distraction is any activity that requires drivers to take their eyes off the road, remove their hands from the wheel, stop thinking about driving or any combination of the above.
Distracted driving doesn’t just mean talking or texting on a cell phone – it can be any activity that interferes with your driving, such as reaching down for your misplaced cell phone. Other activities that can be distracting while driving include eating, talking to passengers, applying makeup and fiddling with the stereo or a navigation system.
Types of Distracted Driving
Visual distraction occurs when a driver looks at anything other than the road ahead. Backseat passengers, especially small children, can take your focus away from the road. Searching for an item in a glove compartment, purse, floorboard or bag contributes to visual distractions. Billboards, GPS, and portable DVDs/digital entertainment are other sources causing distracted driving.
This occurs when the driver is taking one or both of their hands of the steering wheel for any reason. It may be to answer a call or check email, put on lipstick, eat a meal while driving with your knee or adjust the vehicle’s thermostat.
Texting while driving has the biggest potential for distraction while driving. It is mainly due to manual distraction, but texting also includes visual and cognitive distraction elements.
‘Hands-free’ doesn’t mean risk-free. According to a recent AAA study, certain activities, such as talking on a hands-free cell phone or interacting with a speech-to-text email system, increase the risk of cognitive-based distractions by reducing the available mental resources that can be dedicated. Mentally distracted drivers miss visual cues, have slower reaction times, and even exhibit a sort of tunnel vision.
5 Tips to Avoid Common Driving Distractions
These days, focusing on the road ahead is easier said than done. Here are some things you can do to avoid this common problem.
- Turn off your cell phone — even if you’re expecting an important business call.
- If you need to be reachable at all times, get a hands-free device to use only in case of emergency. Why only in emergencies? Because studies have shown that hands-free devices prove just as distracting as normal cell phone use while driving.
- When driving with children or pets, make sure the kids are strapped into their seats, portable DVDs/devices are in reach, and pets are in carriers. If they need your attention during the drive, pull over before handling the situation.
- Eat before or after you drive.
- Program your GPS before you leave the driveway.
In the hurried pace of today’s society, many feel the pressure to get several things done at one time. The result is roads filled with people not paying attention to driving but if you’re able to resist the temptation and focus on the road ahead, you’ll be able to react to the unexpected and possibly avoid an accident.
Contact a Tampa Distracted Driving Lawyer
Car accident lawyers Claire & Mike Hancock have obtained verdicts and settlements of more than $1 million in motor vehicle accidents, but we welcome any case, big or small. Call us for your free, confidential consultation. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week or you can also reach us via our contact form.